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Mosquito spraying sends two people to hospital

By Staff | Jul 6, 2008

Blue Earth is surrounded by areas of standing water perfect for mosquito breeding.

Two people recently went to the emergency room at United Hospital District in Blue Earth after coming into contact with a chemical used to control mosquitoes.

“They were treated and released for symptoms that could have been potentially related to exposure to the chemical,” says Cande Arends of UHD.

Because of data privacy laws she would not comment on the gender or age of the patients, their symptoms or the type of treatment given.

Blue Earth police officer Jake Ruppert was on duty when he received a call on his cell phone for assistance.

“I know one of the persons was a child. They had an allergic reaction to the chemical,” he says.

Rich Welter of Mosquito Control says his company sprays 150 towns a week in Minnesota and Iowa.

“We’ve been spraying for 30 years and this is only the second incident we’ve had,” says Welter.

It’s the third straight year the Rolfe, Iowa, company has sprayed for the city.

Welter says he began the application to the “fringe areas” of town around 8 p.m. on June 23. In an e-mail Welter sent to City Hall the next day, a police officer stopped him and said two people had gone to the hospital because of the spraying he had done in the city.

“I provided the doctor with our website and any other information he needed,” says Welter. Mayor Rob Hammond says Welter was very helpful in assisting health care officials at the hospital.

Material Safety Data Sheets, which detail health hazards and first aid procedures, were given to the doctor on duty at the time.

Nearly nine gallons of Univar Kontrol 4-4 no. 73748-4 was used, Welter says.

The chemical, he adds, emits a “fog or smoke-like cloud” when it is applied.

“It has the same active ingredient found in children’s shampoo for controlling head lice,” says Welter. “It’s safe to use on the scalp.”

Weather conditions generally determine how much spraying is actually done. Mosquito Control has contracted with the city for 12 applications; June 23 was the third treatment.

Fighting the pesky insect is something all area cities have to contend with, but Hammond says the city’s location adds to the problem.

“You can’t drive into Blue Earth without going over water. And, water that is standing and not moving is good for mosquitoes,” he says. “We are in a unique situation.”

The past several years the city has spent $12,000-$15,000 annually on mosquito control. While that may seem costly, Hammond says it is an expense the public doesn’t mind.

“This is something that people want done more than anything else. There isn’t an issue that interests the public more,” he says. “We’d get the calls if we weren’t spraying.”